Great for: Great for: Cafes, Clubs, Mosques, Intercontinental Views, Baked Potatoes
What was once a sleepy fishing village popular with royalty who built mansions along the water for themselves, Ortaköy has now been swallowed up by the ever-expanding city of Istanbul. Its fishing village atmosphere has given way to cafes, bars, nightclubs, and masses of people coming to enjoy the view that attracted the sultans over a century ago.
When Sultan Abdulmecid commissioned his baroque masterpiece to be built on the banks of the Bosphorus looking out across to the Asian bank and the rising sun he built much more than a mosque, he laid the foundation for one of the most ironic sights in Istanbul. Today the mosque of Abdulmecid, called Büyük Mecidiye Mosque though popularly known as Ortaköy Mosque, sits below Istanbul’s great intercontinental bridge. The modern and classic architecture sit as a perfect symbol of this city’s blend of ancient and modern as well as its continent-spanning beauty.
Ortaköy Mosque was designed by Nigoğus and Gabaret Amira Balyan, the father and son duo credited with the design of the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace. As with the palace Ortaköy Mosque is a masterpiece of Ottoman-Baroque architecture with its soaring height and incredible degree of ornamentation. Every piece of stone is covered in curves, texture, and scrolls.
The interior is finished in a typical Ottoman-Baroque style with great windows letting in light and even a sense of the building’s location on the water. The dome and walls are covered in detailed panelling and fanciful frescoes.
While the mosque is in beautiful condition today it was actually in a state of complete disrepair until the 1980’s when major restoration efforts were undertaken to save the building as it was on the verge of collapse.
Beyond the main attraction of the waterfront mosque and the stunning view, Ortaköy attracts many visitors with its collection of cafes, restaurants, and, as weird as it sounds, waffle and baked potato shops. I’m not sure why waffles and baked potatoes always seem to go together in Turkey but they do and they are very popular in Ortaköy. If you’re not into waffles and baked potatoes there are plenty of seafood restaurants, Turkish coffee houses, and Nargile Cafes (Turkish water pipe) to add to this beautiful neighborhood along the Bosphorus.
How To Get There
Take the T1 tramway to Kabataş where you will transfer to either the 22 or 25E bus. Get off at Kabataş Erkek Lisesi.
From the main street in Beşiktaş catch either the 22, 25E, DT1, 42T, or U1 and get off at Kabataş Erkek Lisesi.
Take the DT1 and get off at Kabataş Erkek Lisesi or take any bus going to Beşiktaş and transfer there to any of the above listed options.
From the Asian side
If you’re coming from the Asian side take the ferry to Beşiktaş and follow the above-mentioned steps.
Where To Stay
The waterfront between Beşiktaş and Ortaköy has a number of high-end hotels that will have you fairly close to many of the city’s attractions. Beşiktaş has a number of better economy hotels and, as one of the city’s hubs is well connected to neighborhoods like Taksim.
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